Moving away from a click charge
Mark Stephenson, Fujifilm UK
There’s a certain amount of comfort in the familiar, warm surroundings of a place you know well, particularly if you’ve never ventured out of a known set of surroundings or conditions. A little like a frog being slowly brought to the boil before donating their legs to the cause of gastronomy.
A little extreme, perhaps, to compare this to somebody paying a click charge on a digital press, but there has been little choice for so long that I often come across customers who find it hard to get their head around having a choice. The introduction of inkjet digital presses, however, financed like traditional offset presses, like Fujifilm’s Jet Press 720S, is changing the dynamics of digital printing.
It is certainly a good feeling to present to a printer the possibility of a page that ends up costing only fractions of a penny in ink and service. Equally it’s challenging to consider that a page can cost several times more if the ink coverage is high. “What if I lose out on a job with high coverage of ink?” is the most common observation from printers I talk to. I rarely hear, “What will I do with all the profit I make on a low coverage job?” This assumes that a printer will cost all work on the same formula of average cost plus margin for all jobs, and maybe that’s the problem.
At Fujifilm, we often find that customers who have invested in inkjet presses are becoming more creative in their approach. Here are a few strategies we’ve observed:
Categorise the customer
When dealing with publishers, look at their publications. Specialist consumer magazines with pages of photography and advertising will generally require high ink coverage, so price to suit. If you think the market can stand it you could even categorise further and lower the price for winter sports (snow is not surprisingly a ‘low ink’ subject) and more for astronomy titles (night skies etc.). A publisher of colouring books would obviously get the best rates.
Shift the value
If you provide more to your customers than printing alone and spread the costs across several processes then the emphasis moves away from ink or paper. Data handling, specialist finishing, distribution or project management can easily contribute the lion’s share of profitability and form a buffer for the variables of ink and paper costs.
Feel the squeeze
The larger digital sheet size or web width of a Fujifilm Jet Press can also tip the balance in your favour. Production schedules, turnaround times and workloads can be managed with the help of a capable workflow such as Fujifilm’s XMF, to get as much on a sheet as possible. Mixing jobs and products on the same sheet soon breaks the stranglehold of price per A4 page. Web-to-print software, like Fujifilm’s XMF PrintCentre, and automated ganging and layout software (like Metrix) will help feed and optimise the press.
Freedom from the bounds of a click charge takes some work and involves a little creative thinking but it’s a freedom worth fighting for.